Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Fall is coming. September has arrived, which means we are quickly approaching D-Day. We've almost arrived at the one-year anniversary of Ethan's autism diagnosis. Amazingly, as someone who considers herself almost autistic/savant-like about recalling specific dates and anniversaries, I am not sure I remember the exact day. September 23? September 26?

I can't believe I don't remember, because I'm serious about the whole thing with me and dates. It's a little (or maybe more than a little) freaky. I remember the birthdays of people I haven't seen for 20 years, people who weren't close friends (Becky the McDonalds manager: January 27, Sandra from 2nd grade: December 26). The day Dan and I started dating: July 26, 1994 (also my friend Jodi's birthday, mind you). My first day at Baystate Medical: October 27, 1997 (which was incidentally exactly seven years before the Red Sox won their first world series). The day my school bus got into an accident and two police officers in Springfield were shot and killed: November 12, 1985. I have always been particularly good at remembering the specifics about tragic events. That must be the melancholy in me at work. The Challenger explosion occured on January 28, 1986. That TWA flight that exploded off Long Island? July 17, 1996. See what I mean? I'm scaring even myself.

Yet Ethan's diagnosis date is not emblazoned in my mind, and here we are a little less than one year out. I could tell you about the day. I could talk about driving to Connecticut Children's in Hartford, my heart pounding, praying yet not sure what I was praying for. I wasn't praying for him not to get a diagnosis, because in my heart, something deep down told me he would be getting one. I suppose I was praying for God to be near when it happened. I could talk about taking the elevator up to Dr. Milanese's area (developmental pediatrics) and rolling Ethan's stroller into a very small room. I could mention the conversations we had there while he whined and tried to leave and then our move to another slightly larger room where the speech pathologist (Jennifer) waited, about the toys Ethan ignored and the notes they both scratched. I could talk about them coming back to me and gently saying that yes, they did feel Ethan had autism, then Dr. Milanese tempering her words by saying I shouldn't see this as a rubber stamp, and (having heard my brother's history) that I needed to know she was sure Ethan was not my brother, that his story would be much different.

I could talk about any of those things that happened on whatever day that was, but what most sticks in my mind is this: just as I turned at the entrace to CT Children's that morning, a song came on the Christian station I sometimes listen to on XM radio. I'd heard it many times before and many since. I've always loved the song "Stay Strong" by the Newsboys. Ethan likes the song too, and even then enjoyed listening to it online and banging out the drum part on our computer desk. I was too nervous to sing along, but I drove and mentally joined them in the chorus:

Stay strong
You are not lost
Come on and fix your eyes ahead
There's a new dawn to light our day, our day
You've gotta stay strong
You and I run
for the prize that lies ahead
We've come too far to lose our way

I pulled into the parking garage and began to lose reception on the radio. No! my insides called out. Come back! Anxious tears began filling my eyes.

Just as I parked, the reception came back.

Get up, there's further to go.
Get up, there's more to be done.
Get up, this witness is sure
Get up, this race can be won
This race can be won...

I knew; I heard. God was talking. The drums in the song pounded and I breathed in the extra ounce of courage I needed. I turned off the car, my eyes and head suddenly clear.

Later that day, later in the following weeks and months there would be tears and anger and denials and frustrations, and yes, even despair and hopelessness. But when I go back to D-Day, that's not what I recall. Instead I hear the song in the car. And remember His faithfulness. I don't thank God for autism, but God, I must say it again. I can never say it enough.

Thank you. Thank you for showing me right from the start that we were setting out on the race of our lives; that it's a marathon, not a sprint; and never, ever, are we running alone.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perserverance the race set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:1-2


Anonymous said...

oh, thank you for this.

yes, the date doesn't really matter. you remember the most important thing. isn't it like God to let us know in a personal and intimate way that He is with us?

i also remember being strangely at peace on D-Day for rhema... like i was being carried.

running with you... in a race that will be won.

Deb said...

"Being carried"...I like that. I think I know just what you mean. And thank YOU for blog. I can't thank you enough, because your hope, faith, and trust in God has been such an encouragement to me during my darkest times.